AUSTRALIA ZOO, QLD
SATURDAY, 4 MAY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor's plan to protect native flora and fauna, Sky News debate, expenses, Peter Dutton, Adani, pre-poll, candidates
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everybody. Fantastic to be at Australia Zoo and for me, to be able on Saturday during the election campaign, to take Rupert and Clementine with me to see and meet some of the fantastic animals here, it is just a real treat. But it is really great to be here at Australia Zoo, because Labor can announce today three new initiatives to help protect Australia's environment. Labor has outlined a billion dollars of extra support to protect our precious environment. See, I just do not want my children to come and see our flora and fauna. I want their children to be able to come and see it, and future generations to see what makes Australia so special: our environment. Today we are announcing that we are going to do more to protect our beaches from erosion. We are going to do more to protect our endangered animal species. I think most Australians would be surprised to learn that when it comes to the rate of animal extinctions, we are fourth worst in the world. We need to do more. So a Labor government, if elected on May 18, will make sure that we can do more to protect the habitats of our wallabies and our bandicoots, species of these animals, and our flora and fauna to make sure that we can do more to keep our environment and protect our native species. So more support for community groups to protect beaches from coastal erosion, more support for our endangered animals, and I think in a very exciting development, highlighting Labor's commitment to being the party of the environment, we are going to overhaul our national environmental laws and we are going to put a new cop on the beat. Both to make sure that decisions are made in a timely fashion, which is good for jobs, but also make sure that we have got the strongest possible environmental laws. When you look at today's exciting pro-environment announcements and you add it on top of our commitment to help rescue the reef, our commitment to tackle the scourge of plastics in our waterways, our commitment to revitalise Australia's riverways, you realise that Labor has got a great plan to protect our environment. Of course, as we saw, we are the only party with a fair dinkum plan on climate change. But today, it is about the zoo and seeing some of Australia’s precious fauna and I am very excited that Labor is investing so much to preserve our environment, so that future generations get to see what we get to see now. I am happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: If you win government, would you consider following the UK parliament's lead and declaring a climate emergency?
SHORTEN: Well first things first, I do think that climate change is a most serious issue. We have got to win the election. I think last night 's debate revealed that this government has no plan on climate change. What we want to do is take us to 50 per cent renewables by 2030. Now, last night I thought it was very revealing in the debate, when pressed, when the Prime Minister could no longer hide, he had to admit through gritted teeth, that actually our carbon pollution is increasing. When Tony Abbott came in it was about 512 megatons of carbon pollution into the environment. Now it has gone up to 541 megatons and the trajectory is up, not down. Australians are crying out for action on climate change. Business as usual just doesn’t cut it. If you want to see the nation act on climate change, vote Labor at the next election.
JOURNALIST: Was the space invaders moment a 'Mark Latham moment' for Scott Morrison?
SHORTEN: Well, I was right in the middle of it all. I thought he was clearly under pressure, but I could not see from the TV viewers' perspective so I might ask Kristina Keneally to give her perspective, as one of the audience.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, SENATOR FOR NSW: Thanks, Bill. First of all let me say, to borrow a basketball analogy, last night Bill Shorten had nothing but net, he shot the lights out, whereas Scott Morrison, quite frankly, fouled out by the third quarter and got a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct to boot. Last night, we saw the real Scott Morrison. Not the knockabout bloke, not the daggy dad, but someone who is arrogant, aggressive and, quite frankly, desperate. Scott Morrison came to the debate last night, not with any policy or vision, though he did have his Mark Latham moment. Bill came with real action on climate change and he has got his stable, united team around him. Last night, Scott Morrison had little more than his arrogance and his climate change denialism. He also had his aggression. Quite frankly, it wasn’t pretty. His space invader moves? They were not pretty at all.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Shorten, should Malarndirri McCarthy have spent more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on flights to Sydney and more than 100 nights in the city when she was not travelling for sitting weeks? Is the explanation is that she was there for personal business like medical treatment acceptable?
SHORTEN: She has self-referred herself to the Parliamentary Expenses Authority, which is the right course of action. We will see what they say.
JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, do you think it is appropriate that your candidate for Durack thinks refugees should go back to where they came from, and people on welfare should just get a job?
SHORTEN: I have not seen her comments, so I can’t add anything to it.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that she should be disendorsed, though?
SHORTEN: Well, if I have not seen her comments, then I cannot comment on them.
JOURNALIST: Well, why have you not seen them? They were sent to the Labor Party yesterday.
SHORTEN: I have not seen them.
JOURNALIST: You have talked about chaos and dysfunction in the Coalition, but doesn't Peter Dutton today coming out and saying that, win or lose, Scott Morrison should be the leader void your argument?
SHORTEN: Is that what he said? Listen, if they are already trying to work out their leadership instability now, it just shows the chaos in this government. Peter Dutton, there is a name we have not heard, we have not seen him lot in the national media since he made his disgraceful outburst targeting Ali France's disability. Ali France lost the lower part of her leg pushing her own child out of the way of an oncoming car which had lost control. All we have had from Dutton since then is a very graceless apology, and we have not seen him since. I did not know he was there last night, I understand Kristina saw him. So maybe she could add to this.
KENEALLY: I did see Peter Dutton last night. He was let out of whatever underground bunker the Liberals are keeping him in and allowed to appear on Sky News in the daytime, so there you go. What we have seen today, in relation to Mr Dutton, is evidence that, in Dickson, Liberal volunteers are handing out how to votes for Clive Palmer. It is not enough that Scott Morrison is doing dirty deals with Clive Palmer, now Liberal volunteers for Peter Dutton are doing Clive Palmer's dirty work. They are handing out his how to votes there in Dickson. This is the length, the desperation, that Scott Morrison and the Liberals will go to in order to cling on to power. Doing these desperate deals with extremist right-wing parties and now having Liberal volunteers involved actively in handing out how to votes for Clive Palmer.
JOURNALIST: On the environment, you talk about endangered species becoming extinct. Are you concerned about the black-throated finch up in the Adani, and the Galilee?
SHORTEN: I think that is a different set of issues, isn’t it. I make no apology for the fact that Labor wants to slow down the rate of extinction of animals, of birds, of mammals, of our flora. I think most Australians would be shocked to discover that the rate of extension of species that we are the fourth worst in the world. I think what we're doing today is a really good initiative and I really think it goes down to a deeper theme in this political election. Do you really want more of the same? Do we really want business as usual on the environment, on climate change, on cost of living? Or do we want a hand on a better deal. The reason that I got into politics is to hand on a better deal to those who come after us, than what we inherited from those who came before. Now, this is not the only issue in the election, I get that, the preservation of species of animals is not going to decide the fate of an election, but it is a sign, just like we have comprehensive environmental policies, that Labor is thinking about the future of this country and if we want a better future for this country, more of the same and a tax cut for the top end, that's not a plan for the future, that's just a recipe for more chaos.
JOURNALIST: I just wanted to ask - today the AEC has told us that 660,000 people have already voted.
SHORTEN: Alright, okay. Yes.
JOURNALIST: And that there's still another two weeks to go, to the election. Do you think that pre-polls should be tightened, that it should only potentially be a week before the election, rather than three weeks before the election?
SHORTEN: Listen, I think that people look for more convenience in their voting. Australians lead busy lives, and if you have a chance to vote ahead of the Saturday, if it increases participation in our system, I'm all for it. It is a big number. Four percent of Australia has already voted. I think that is unprecedented. I guess that is because people are looking for the convenience of voting early, but perhaps amongst all the other explanations, there is a mood for change. Wherever I go in Australia, people ask why can't you and politics just get on with the climate change debate, just get on and fix it, get on and act. I saw the West Australian today had a big front page where people were saying just get on and do it. I just want to say to Australians who are impatient with the broken political system that we have right now, if you vote Labor, we will get on with real action on climate change. To those Australians, say who are pensioners, who are frustrated because they're like one of the 145,000 Australians on waiting lists for dental care - if you vote for Labor we will just get on with it and let you have some say over your own dental health, rather than just forgetting about you and just worrying about a tax cut for the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: On the Liberal volunteers who have been spotted handing out Clive Palmer how to vote cards - do you want the electoral commission to intervene? Because this isn't the first time this has happened.
SHORTEN: Well, I think there is something pathetically desperate about the current government, isn't there? They're rushing around tying up coalition deals with Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson. I mean, Mr. Morrison, when he was the treasurer, didn't have a good word to say about Clive Palmer. Now he's a beleaguered Prime Minister, Clive Palmer can do no wrong. That is not the way to do business in this country. My concern is if the Liberals were to scrape home, they are a risk to the stability of the nation, because Scott Morrison has sold the soul of the Liberal and National Party and put it in the hands of Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson. This is a recipe for chaos. One sentiment I get right across Australia, doesn't matter if you're Liberal, Labor whatever, people say, can you guys just end the chaos? My team is talented, my team is stable, and I am offering Australians a vision for a better Australia. I am recommending a vote for change in this election, because the pensioners should not be kept waiting to get their teeth looked after, because a million Australians households shouldn't be battling just to pay childcare, and they should get some support. Because people expect us to take action on climate change, and when you are in the fight of your life dealing with cancer, the government should be finding some money to help you with your out of pocket costs, not shoving $77 billion out of the budget in a ram raid to give the top tier of tax earners in this country.
JOURNALIST: Why are you happy to respond to -
SHORTEN: I promise you, I've said to you I'll come to you.
JOURNALIST: Why didn't Labor step in earlier with the candidate Luke Creasey, to consider dis-endorsing him, when the first posts emerged, and are you worried about the impression it will leave on voters?
SHORTEN: Well, when the very first post that he shared emerged, we said it was stupid, it was wrong, it was reprehensible, there were no excuses, but then it was clear that there would be not just one post, and there were more, and I was not going to keep defending the situation, full stop.
JOURNALIST: Why are you happy to respond to -
KEANEALLY: Can I respond to that as well? What we have seen from Mr. Morrison is a new standard, right? Mr. Morrison got up and said, it did not matter how long ago Luke Creasey's posts were, it did not matter whether or not he had apologised, that it made him unfit for public office, making those sorts of comments. Now, if that is Mr. Morrison's new standard, the question needs to be asked, what is Mr. Morrison going to do about John Alexander? John Alexander made despicable jokes, I'm not going to repeat here, about rape. Sure, it was 22 years ago, and he apologised, but he did it on film. This is Mr. Morrison's standard now. It doesn't matter how long ago, it doesn't matter how young you were, it doesn't matter whether you say sorry, you're unfit. If this is the Scott Morrison standard, I think it needs to be put on Scott Morrison, how is it that John Alexander gets to contest Bennelong, but somehow Luke Creasey's apology is not good enough? That is Mr. Morrison's standard, and Mr. Morrison risks being called a hypocrite, if he is applying one standard to a Labor candidate, and a different standard to a Liberal candidate. Can I also say, Mr Morrison has been out there saying, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. What about the Liberal candidate for Scullin? Is Mr Morrison really willing to walk past, and accept, as a standard, that it is okay to equate same-sex marriage to paedophilia? I cannot imagine a more repugnant view for a candidate to hold, than to say that same-sex couples, people who have entered into a marriage, a loving relationship, who are raising children, who are families in our communities, who have been granted under the law the right to marry, for a Liberal candidate to stand in front of the public and say that is equatable to paedophilia is disgusting, and that is the standard that Mr. Morrison is walking past when he fails to act on the Liberal candidate for Scullin.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Shorten, why are you happy to respond to comments Peter Dutton has made, that you say you were not aware of, but you were sent questions about the candidate for Durack yesterday and you haven't got across that yet, you don't want to respond to that, because you're not across it?
SHORTEN: Actually, I responded to the comments Peter Dutton made, two and a half weeks ago about Ali France. I didn't respond to his comments that he made yesterday, other than what you put to me. So it's different. But if we want to talk about Peter Dutton, it just reminds you of the chaos of the Liberal Party. Let's be honest, they're already working out who leads the opposition. For me, why don't they ever just talk about the people? I mean they do a lot of brainpower into working out how to pretend their liberal supporters are Clive Palmer supporters to hand out their how to vote cards, they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about us. I mean the debate on your TV station was only twelve or fourteen hours ago, sixteen hours ago, and we learn a couple of significant things in that debate, didn't we? We learnt that Mr. Morrison has a $77 billion tax cut for the top tax earners in Australia, but he won't admit it, and what's worse is he won't even explain how he is going to pay for it. I think he let the cat out of the bag on a couple of significant issues. He has banged on about costings, why is he so scared to admit he is taking $77 billion or thereabouts, out of the national budget to give it to the top tax earners. And of course, he gave one of the silliest answers a politician has given in the history of the Commonwealth, when I said to him, if you take all this money, for your fictitious tax cuts, out of the budget, what is it you won't be spending money on, and he said - these tax cuts don't have a cost. Oh, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. His plan, is to give tax cuts to the top end, $77 billion dollars. A millionaire, in Mr. Morrison's world is going to get an $11,000 tax cut, someone on $40,000 is getting $11 a week, that is his priorities, and how does he pay for that? He pays for it by cuts.
I look forward to seeing you at our next engagement everyone.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask one issue?
SHORTEN: Tim, I haven't given you one question so.
JOURNALIST: When Scott Morrison got into your personal space last night, as you clearly believe he did, do you think that was a tactical ploy to knock you off your balance or it was Scott Morrison, the bloke, that's who he is?
SHORTEN: Oh listen, I clearly thought he was under pressure. I don't know what he was thinking, when he did it, but I have had a lot of people respond and say they would prefer to see their prime ministers and opposition leaders, keep your cool at all times.